Out In The Cold: Surfing Lake Erie

A surfer in from the cold waters of Lake Erie in Cleveland. (Photo: Billy Delfs)

Last week I discovered¬†Billy Delfs’ portraits of surfers in Cleveland, Ohio.¬†Rust Wire ran a photo essay featuring Delfs’ shots, which drew me in. But with little background given in the essay, I was curious about these surfers, their community, where exactly they catch waves on the shores of Lake Erie, and how long they had been doing it. Turns out surfing in Cleveland has a history dating back to the 1960s.

Surfers are centralized in a town called Edgewater. There’s a new documentary about the culture. It’s called Out Of Place (see trailer below). What’s interesting about surfing Lake Erie in Cleveland is that waves aren’t created by currents but by weather conditions, like snow, sleet, wind, and rain. So the colder and rougher the weather, the better the waves. If the weather is calm, the waves disappear. Timing is everything.

  • Surfing Season / Wonderful Machine Photography Blog

    [...] Matthew Newton, inspired by Billy’s photos, did a little research and found out that people in Cleveland have been surfing since the 1950s, centered in a nearby town [...]

  • Moiradesigndiary

    woww this is SO Rad! Thx for sharing.